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Evaluating financial performance

This course will help you to analyse published financial information in a meaningful way. It deals with performance measures that can be calculated from information in published, audited financial statements of a business or public sector organisation. You'll also learn about the measures of profitability, efficiency, financial sustainability and financial results.

Standalone study only

You will not be awarded credits for studying this course. It is available for standalone study only and cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Short course

Short course code



This is a non-credit bearing course.

Study method

Short course cost

Entry requirements

What you will study

Many people may be interested in evaluating the financial performance of an organisation. The most obvious people are the owners and people who work in an organisation, and in particular its managers. Evaluating financial performance is a way of understanding how effectively and efficiently the organisation is working. Other interested groups may include suppliers, financiers, customers, employee representatives and professional financial analysts; they may wish to know how well an organisation is working, but perhaps for different reasons. Some may be interested in profits and returns, while others may be interested in efficiency, sustainability or results. All of these perspectives will be covered in this course.

Most businesses and public sector organisations have to publish audited financial statements every year. These financial statements include an income statement and a balance sheet and these two statements provide the raw material for many financial performance measures to be calculated. These measures are the subject of this course. The course will help you to analyse published financial information in a meaningful way.

The course comprises four units: 

Unit 1: Measuring profitability
This unit covers the covers the various ways in which profit may be evaluated, their benefits and limitations.


Unit 2: Measuring efficiency
This unit looks at the way assets and resources are managed in an organisation.


Unit 3: Measuring financial sustainability
In this unit you will learn how a business ensures it will be able to continue to operate for the foreseeable future, by understanding its liquidity and exposure to risk through gearing.


Unit 4: Measuring financial results
This unit goes beyond whether the investors or owners in a business achieve a profit to look at other measures of overall return.

The course is focused mainly on private sector businesses, and the examples and exercises within it are about business. However, many of the ratios and other measures identified in this course can be calculated and evaluated in a meaningful way for government and public sector organisations. However, some of them, such as profit measures and investor returns, do not translate to the public sector.

You will learn

By studying this course you will be able to: 

  • calculate the main financial ratios that can be derived from published financial statements
  • draw some conclusions about an organisation based on these common performance measures
  • recognise the limitations of such performance measures
  • apply your learning to any organisation you are interested in. 

Learner support

This course was designed to be independently studied with no tutor support. StudentHome is a dedicated website that provides general study support and there is a computing helpdesk.

Teaching and assessment


There an end-of-course quiz to test your knowledge and understanding. Once completed and successfully passed you will receive a digital badge and a course completion certificate which you can download as a record of your learning.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations, which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Entry requirements

There are no formal academic requirements.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact us.

Course length

The course will require around 10 hours to complete.

You can begin at any time during the life of the course and study at your own pace.


Start End England fee Register
At anytime before registration end date Jan 2025 - see Entry requirements for more detail £150.00

Registration closes 31/07/2024


Ways to pay

Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2024/25 academic year. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible and funded places are still available.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069, or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

What's included

All learning materials, exercises, study support and end of course quiz are delivered entirely online. 

Computing requirements

You'll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS Ventura or higher.

Functionality may be limited on mobile devices. For example, voice recorder activities, which are common in language short courses, may not work on iOS/Apple devices.

Our module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile App will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It's not available on Kindle.

It's also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you'll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

If you have a disability

The course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying BGXS007 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.